The first-ever “Musselman Arts Triathlon” will take place on Friday, July 17, at the historic Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva. For 12 continuous hours, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the stage will be occupied by a series of musicians, dancers and painters performing and improvising together in an entertaining, creative fusion. Donations to the Smith Opera House are invited in lieu of an admission charge.
In addition to well-known composers and musicians, such as Trio East, Doug Opel, and Mark Mellits, the day will feature choreographers and dancers from BIODANCE, Inc., Hobart and William Smith Colleges Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Missy Pfohl Smith’s company. Dancers from Present Tense Dance Company, Inc., and the Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective will also be featured, as well as visual artists from the region, including Hobart and William Smith Professor of Art Michael Bogin, Jesse Collins, and Jeannette Hernandez. The event also incorporates the talents of children, musicians, dancers and painters from the Geneva community, including Ed Ruchalski, who will create sound with sculptures, inviting children in the audience to make music with him on Friday afternoon. The “Kids College Movement Choir” from the Hobart and William Smith Kids College will also perform Friday morning at 10 a.m.
Under the auspices of the Musselfest activities and in conjunction with the Musselman races that weekend, this event was inspired by the concept of a triathlon in three art forms.
“As a natural counterpart to the athletic races, we recognize the physical toil, determination, and perseverance of artists as well as the passion and inspiration of athletes who push themselves to a level that exceeds common experience,” says Donna Davenport, co-director of the Musselman Arts Triathlon.
Davenport is a modern dancer and choreographer, professor of dance and associate dean of faculty at Hobart and William Smith. Over two decades Davenport has performed, produced music and dance concerts, and presented her choreography at Smith Opera House, including West Side Story for the Smith’s Centennial Celebration in 1995.
“A fundraiser for the Smith, at the magnificent Opera House, seemed the perfect venue for this ambitious idea,” she says.
Davenport’s co-directors (as well as performers and composers) are Mark Olivieri and Cherry Rahn. Olivieri is a composer, musician, and teacher and the composer-in-residence for the Department of Dance at SUNY College at Brockport. Also a tri-athlete, he will compete in the Musselman race this July and saw that challenge as a natural connection to a marathon of arts performances.
Rahn is a local sculptor with 20 years’ experience, as well as a painter and a former dancer. In inviting other painters to participate, she says, “There is a ‘happening’ atmosphere to this production that should invoke our playfulness and enjoyment.”
The triathlon’s production coordinator is Mark Wenderlich, from the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council, a co-sponsor of the event. Wenderlich is an actor, theater director, and lighting designer for the HWS Dance Department, as well as assistant professor of theater at Keuka College.
Among the other Musselman athletes performing in the Arts Triathlon are Petar Kodzas, who teaches at the Eastman Community Music School, and flautist Kelly Jepson Covert. Kodzas will play classical guitar selections from his repertory. Many of Kodzas’ songs have their origin in his native land, now Serbia, and one of the themes of his music is the relationship between classical compositions and folk music melodies.
Borrowing from the renowned “60 x 60” concerts, composers have been invited to write one-minute scores, and 60 premieres will be performed back-to-back. Included in the line-up of composers are Otto Muller, Chris Reba and Mark Radice.
Davenport has invited Present Tense Dance, now in its 18th year, to perform for each of the scores. The dancers will be taught a one-minute piece of choreography which is performed differently, depending on the music that drives their bodies’ creative expression. This promises to be a provocative and exciting performance.
For updates, please visit “Musselman Arts Triathlon” or contact Davenport at (315) 781-3760.
The photo above is of Michelle Ikle, assistant professor of dance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who will also perform during the event.